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Why do people (usually the older generation) say that your breast milk might not be good enough?

(70 Posts)
suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 07:06:59

It is bollocks isn't it?


My DS is really slow to gain and a few older people have asked if my milk is strong enough.

I just give the example of malnourished african women feeding their babies but that didn't work with my 83 year old DM reading Nan hmm.

Does my bloody head in. Grrrrrrrrr

turtle23 Wed 02-Sep-09 07:10:58

Because they are jealous that you are breastfeeding. Because they were told this by their HPs when they had children. Because people are rarely wellk-informed about it.
My MIL was told when she had DH (37 years ago, and she was 37 herself) that because she was "elderly" her milk was unsuitable and off and would make him sick. How sad is that?
Give her "The Politics of Breastfeeding" to read and get yourself some earplugs.
Well done for breastfeeding.

suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 07:14:44

Thanks turtle. I really need to read that book myself never mind my nan.

belgo Wed 02-Sep-09 07:19:25

Because they were the ones who were most influenced by the advertising of formula milk in the 1970s.

I know my mother associated bfing with poverty - it was the richer middle classes who could afford bottles and formula milk, so for that reason it was deemed better.

suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 07:23:00

My mum bf me in 1975 and my sister in 78 though. Although she thinks 6m is plenty long enough.

suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 07:43:38

There's no truth in it though is there? DS lost 20 oz shock when he was born and is still 10 less than his birth weight 5 weeks ago.

Weigh in day today.

<<shoots self>>

ShowOfHands Wed 02-Sep-09 07:51:23

Good luck today suwoo. There is very, very rarely an issue with the quality of milk, only the quantity.

How is he otherwise?

mangostickyrice Wed 02-Sep-09 07:53:53

Of course it's bollocks, strong milk indeed. What does that even mean?

You need tiktok really, but do you have lots of wet nappies, baby that seems fine and healthy when he's not on the scales? Yes? Then he is fine and healthy.

suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 08:02:32

Tiktok has advised me on my many other threads grin yep, 5 poos a day, lots of wees, alert, lusty cry, no dehydration yadda yadda. It's just the bastard scales that ruin things.

Todays plan is to nod and smile sweetly at the hv then leg it grin

mangostickyrice Wed 02-Sep-09 08:07:18

Good plan, am sending heavy baby, chilled mama vibes

giantkatestacks Wed 02-Sep-09 08:10:08

good luck suwoo.

Its because they fed to a schedule every 4 hours and therefore their supply fell off and they didnt know that it was the routine and not them or their milk etc.

Tambajam Wed 02-Sep-09 08:11:44

Because that's the message they received in the 1950s, 60s, 70s. They were also told to adhere strictly to a 4hr feeding routine and to restrict night feeds from an incredibly early age so it's not surprising people often struggled. My MIL remembers my DH being sent to the nursery overnight and she was actually sleeping nearby and was kept away by the rows of screaming babies. But it didn't occur to her to put her foot down and ask for him back. People were less inclined to question the 'clever' doctors and authoritarian medical establishment.

People hadn't as much knowledge about the bioavailability of breastmilk and in the age where science was king often seemed to switch off their common sense. Human breastmilk seemed watery and 'thinner' so of course the more opaque milk of a species with a completely different muscle mass, brain development and growth rate was the way to go.

Maria2007 Wed 02-Sep-09 08:51:20

Suwoo, this is unfortunately such a common thing... I was told the same many times by my mum. Always used to tell me that the baby might be hungry & that perhaps my milk was a bit watery? She never bf herself (this was in the 70s) & I agree with what the others have said, this was a standard thing people believed at the time. I wouldn't take it too personally to be honest, attitudes change at different times, MILs and mums sometimes worry. Of course if they become bossy about it (which they sometimes do) that's a different story.

The important thing is that your baby is fine, not dehydrated, growing well. Weight charts can become a bit of an obsession with us new mums! Don't take them too seriously, babies go up & down the percentile lines, just keep an eye on the whole thing. I would definitely not completely ignore the HV though, I would keep contact with her- I sometimes feel MNers very easily encourage to 'ignore the HV' or 'not go to baby clinic' which I think can be dangerous advice, especially since some babies do end up dehydrated due to inadequate bf support. However in your case that doesn't seem to be the issue at all so really I wouldn't worry. Breastmilk is absolutely fine milk.

tiktok Wed 02-Sep-09 09:23:37

It's horribly undermining when people persist in saying daft things we know in our heads are not true but which affect our feelings and confidence, even so.

Women breastfeed, and breastfed, under extraordinary conditions, even in our own times. Their quality of milk was/is fine - we know this because there have been many studies that tested the babies and tested the milk.

Quantity of breastmilk is much more variable, and I don't think we should shrink from saying this - some women do have more problems building up and maintaining a supply and these problems can be exacerbated or even caused by poor care, or circumstances they found hard to control, or poor knowledge and information.

Very slow weight gain isn't a 'good' thing and it should always be addressed, never ignored. Most babies who gain unusually slowly seem to turn out just fine, even so, and catch up later.

The thing to remember is that it is volume of milk we need to be concerned about. Quality and 'strength' (what is that?) look after themselves

essenceofSES Wed 02-Sep-09 09:38:46

suwoo - good luck for today's weigh in.
I think I posted on one of your other threads but be reassured that my DS was 8lb9 at birth, went down to 7lb7 and 4 weeks after birth was still 7lb10. I had my DH, MIL, SIL and GP all talking to me as if I were mad to continue BFing. He did have a mild tongue tie diagnosed at 1 month that made a difference after it was resolved but at 15wks is now around 13lb7 and now no one is complaining that I am BF or suggesting top ups like they were.

Tiktok (as ever!) is right, slow weight gain isn't necessarily good but if your lo is alert and having plenty of wet nappies then follow your instincts.

Maria2007 Wed 02-Sep-09 09:58:24

Tiktok, yes, what is this 'strength' thing??? It's quite funny actually, as if breastmilk is some sort of alcoholic beverage which should or shouldn't have a particular amount of alcohol. 50% strong breastmilk, 20% strong breastmilk and so on

DitaVonCheese Wed 02-Sep-09 09:59:58

Just repeating what everyone else has said, but it's because it was told and yes, it's bollocks.

My 90 yr old gran still genuinely believes that her milk was harming my uncle because it was "too rich" He had colic and she weaned him at three months on medical advice - bearing in mind that colic often improves dramatically at 12 wks, I guess it may have seemed as though weaning had a magic effect on him.

hercules1 Wed 02-Sep-09 10:02:18

My mother had 4 children and only attempted to feed my db who is now 40 years old. She was told her milk wasnt good enough. She never really got over that feeling of failure and has often talked about it having seen me feed both mine.
She has recently had some tests done and was told one of the tests was for lactate/lactose and asked me if I thought this would explain her not being able to produce milk good enough for db. This is despite me having explained to her many times how bf works and how it was because babies were taken away from the mothers at this time etc.

MrsTittleMouse Wed 02-Sep-09 10:06:50

My grandmother did that to me. DD1 was feeding all the time and so my milk wasn't strong enough. Then I pointed out how much weight she had gained on my "watery" milk an d she said that it must be too rich!

She had been told that she couldn't breastfeed her two babies (in the 1940s). I think that it's a reluctance to admit that all the bollocks that was sprouted about breastfeeding back then wasn't actually true. Even though it was hardly her fault as the whole culture back then was "doctor knows best". Mind you, she seemed very keen to formula feed so that she could off load her babies onto other family members. She was never the most maternal of women. hmm

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Wed 02-Sep-09 10:08:25

Good luck at the weigh in today smile

I am so glad you have had faith in you, your milk and your ds. DS didn't gain his birthweight until he was over a month old and he is fine. He has more than made up for it since grin

edam Wed 02-Sep-09 10:17:19

More good luck vibes from me!

Older people are just repeating what they were told. The medical establishment hadn't bothered to do any research into b/m at the time - they just assumed formula was superior because b/m was just what women did. Same way they looked down on 'motherese' (talking to babies in a high pitched voice using nonsense words or two syllables etc. etc.). Without bothering to do any research. Turns out, of course, that speaking to babies in a way you wouldn't address adults is exactly what you should do, what's reassuring and comforting and makes sense to babies and women know this instinctively - that's why we do it! Sadly some people still don't know this and look down on cooing to babies.

Doctors knew best, despite not bothering to look at what women were doing - hence giving birth flat on your back because it's easier for them to see what's going on.

My mother was traumatised by having me taken away and stuck in the nursery overnight, by being given an injection to dry up her milk automatically (only one woman refused and she was regarded by the midwives as an oddball hippie).

So when she had my sister, she said bollocks to that, had sister at home with good local midwife who knew what she was doing, and b/f successfully. smile

edam Wed 02-Sep-09 10:18:48

Oh, and it's appalling that many healthcare profs are still spouting bollocks about bigger babies being too hungry to survive on b/m, b/m being insufficient for smaller babies, etc. etc. etc.

Narketta Wed 02-Sep-09 10:19:57

MIL told me that if I didn't express some milk before feeding that the first few mouthfuls would be offhmm

She also told me that because I had PND that my milk would go bad and would make my DS and DD ill. (yes she tried to tell me all this rubbish with both of my DC)

Needless to say I ignored her advice both times. grin

suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 10:40:32

Thanks everyone, I have the faith grin.

I am very grateful for everyones advice on this, bf is a whole new world for me.

I don't think I have any quantity issues, so fingers crossed he has gained today (I think he has)

I have also just remembered my mum telling me that my nan wasn't able to feed my uncle in the 40's/50's?? as he was 11lb born and her milk wasn't 'strong' enough. She probably put him on carnation or whatever it was they did then hmm.

suwoo Wed 02-Sep-09 14:35:38

He gained 2oz grin.

It was a different young HV and she told me to ignore the charts and go home and relax.

I said "ooh I like you".

Thanks eveyone.

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